Journal Article

Transitions in Relationships With Older Parents: From Middle to Later Years

Martijn J. A. Hogerbrugge and Merril D. Silverstein

in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B

Published on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America

Volume 70, issue 3, pages 481-495
Published in print May 2015 | ISSN: 1079-5014
Published online June 2014 | e-ISSN: 1758-5368 | DOI:
Transitions in Relationships With Older Parents: From Middle to Later Years

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  • Geriatric Medicine
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Although intergenerational relationships have been extensively examined, studies applying dynamic multidimensional treatments are rare. Employing the life course framework and the intergenerational solidarity and ambivalence paradigms, a typology of intergenerational relationships was derived and propositions about dynamics of intergenerational relationships were tested.


Using latent transition analysis, we modeled 4 waves of panel data spanning 18 years from the Longitudinal Study of Generations to examine how older parent–child relationships (N = 938) transitioned in and out of complex relational configurations.


We derived 5 relationship types roughly corresponding to those found in earlier research. Transitions in relationship type occurred mostly when both generations were relatively young, and along the lines of what attachment, ambivalence, and latent kinship theories would predict. When change did occur, it was primarily structured by factors affecting the availability of adult children, as well as circumstances that elevated the dependency of older parents and promoted both positive and negative reactivity in their adult children.


This study has demonstrated how typological analysis captures both the complexities and dynamics of intergenerational relationships in mature families. By including behavioral, emotional, and normative aspects of later life intergenerational relationships, we told a story that was more about continuity than change.

Keywords: Intergenerational relations; Latent transition analysis; Longitudinal.

Journal Article.  10574 words. 

Subjects: Geriatric Medicine ; Psychology ; Gerontology and Ageing

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